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tv   To the Contrary With Bonnie Erbe  PBS  December 19, 2010 9:30am-10:00am EST

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this week on to the contrary: sexual assault on the rise at the nation's top military academies. then, a new study finds career women may need male mentors and sponsors to get ahead in the work world. behind the headlines, renaissance woman dr. maya angelou shares her wisdom on life and cooking. hello, i'm bonnie erbe. welcome to to the contrary, a discussion of news and social trends from diverse perspectives. up first: protecting female cadets: rates of rape and sexual assault are on the rise at the nation's top three military academies. this according to a new
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department of defense report finding a 64 percent increase in sexual assault cases during the 2009-2010 academic year. the pentagon says the spike in cases doesn't necessarily mean more attacks, but rather more women coming forward and pressing charges. still, the report shows out of fear, only one in 10 cadets ends up reporting sexual violence. in the last few years the military has rolled out new measures to combat sexual assault and intimidation. but critics say it's not enough. this week, the american civil liberties union and the service women's action network filed suit against the defense department, demanding improvement in the way the academies treat sexual assault cases. it's estimated one in three women is sexually assaulted during her military career. >> why is this rate rising now among the nation's premier
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officer candidates? >> it's exposing the fact that the armed forces has failed incredibly to train young men to keep their hands off their peers who are serving right alongside. >> and i don't think we know exactly. is it as the report said, because it's happening more or because more people are reporting it? it's a question that has to be answered. >> i agree. i don't think the report is clear. and i think it's impossible to determine at this point. is it increasing or is the rate of reporting increasing? what is clear is that our military elite, our leaders of the future, have a major problem in how they treat their fellow officers. as you said, it seems like it might be an increase in the rate of reporting and that's really important. >> but 64%? >> increase in the rate of reporting overall because rates
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even in civilian life are underreported. the fact that there are more people coming forward, even though it embarrasses the military, this was a very positive development. >> in one year, 2/3 increase? that makes no sense to me as strictly -- and the report didn't say -- it threw it out there as a possibility. it didn't say it is because more women are reporting. >> it could be a redefinition of what constitutes sexual assault. having not read the report, i can't speak to it. >> it said sexual hur assment and violence. >> wait a minute. look where we are talking. we are not talking the rank-and-file. these are the best and brightest. i'm telling you, if you want to go to yale and harvard and princeton and stanford, you are not as good as the young men and women we nominate. so, if you see it -- >> and you went to yale.
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>> that's right. so, we are dealing with the best and the brightest. now, i will grant that this kind of escalation and figures probably has something else going to but let's ask, why is there rape or sexual harassment going on among top military -- >> because -- wait a minute. these are people being trained in disciplines including, i had thought, their sexual cravings. >> i understand. but we have to be clear. people commit rape because they don't have as high iq as somebody else. people that are very smart people. >> i'm talking -- >> race is not about -- it's about power. i hope that many of these are the best and brightest but that doesn't mean they are above doing these things. >> my father went to west point and i did two years of army rotc. so i have been around the academy a lot over the years.
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and there is a culture there already built-in before women started going toot economies of harassment that went on when you're in for your first year. the army had to step in and the navy had to step in and say you're going way beyond. -- >> this is against other guys? >> they were doing that to other guys. then you bring women into this and they start going after women. and then, you can be saying that's assault. that's sexual assault, that's sexual harassment. so i think we need to look at the context of the academies and what goes on there. >> and we are talking about the young men drives, when their sex drive is at a premium. so if you are training young men, you have to understand where they are. and what kind of oppression of sexual desire is going to take to force them to be disciplined properly. >> but then that gets back to the question that deborah raised, which is, is sexual
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assault about sexual drive or control and power? >> whatever it's about it's about not being disciplined as an officer. so however you want to define it, it is clear to me that the academies have left out or have not learned as the number of women have increased at all the academies to somehow, and this is difficult. this is their duty to, to somehow train very explicitly young men how to behave. >> but does it say to you in any way shape or form that you can't train men? i'm old enough to remember -- i'm serious. some men, not all men, obviously most men, yes. but that there are some and perhaps mental illness plays a role too because for example, bipolar disorder doesn't usually
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show up until you're in your late teens, early 20's. so there are people who -- i have a friend whose daughter graduated magna couple from princeton and out of college she had her first bipolar breakdown and that's the age when it happens. are there some situations where you're just -- does this is a in any way shape or form, we'll never get sexual harassment out of the militariy? >> we have been dressing sexual harassment on college campuses and it goes on at terrible rates. it has to be teaching people that you have can't act like this and you have to say it's not acceptable and this will be dealt with harshly and teaching women, it's okay to speak up and speak out and there will not be repiesals. look what happened with the rape case with those women's names being released before the charges were heard out. of course this has a chilling effect on women reporting rape in the private sector and militariy and public sector.
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so these are all really important issues. once again, looking at the culture of the academies, very positive in many ways, you don't tell on your classmates. you tough it out. you're going to be soldiers together. you don't go running to command and talk about it and maybe the policies the military is tutting -- putting in place is allowing women to feel freer and come forward and talk about what is happening and say we are not going to take it. >> what is going to happen to the women who do come forward and -- are they going to be -- >> that would be my guess. >> that just makes a bad situation awful. and the fact they are coming forward does say something about how the academies are treating them. and i understand this is very difficult but they have to learn themselves. >> there is the reporting and then dealing with it after the fact. the posttraumatic stress disorder. is the va edevoid handle this?
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they are dealing with lots of wounded iraq and afghanistan soldiers. so they are dealing with physical injuries and a tremendous stigma attached to acknowledging any kind ever mental illness in the military period. as the va muse forward and modernizes, this is important to look at. >> all right. from sexual assault to corporate sponsorship professional career women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. this, according to a new study by catalyst, finding women's lack of sponsors is part of the reason men outpace them up the corporate ladder. while mentors provide career guidance and advice, sponsors use their influence with executives to advocate for the mentee's promotion or higher salary. the study reveals women with senior-level mentors advanced further and earned more than women with less senior mentors. but even with a high-level mentor, women's pay and
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promotions still lag behind those of men. business experts say women should be open to having male mentors and women must be more aggressive in showing their work and talking about their goals and aspirations to get noticed by potential sponsors. >> what struck me about this study is that for all these years, it's been women should mentor other women and help them up throughout through the corporate ladder and this applies not just to career women but also women at all levels in the workforce and now we are finding that even that isn't having the effect that we all expect that it could have. >> it's a start. but i think if anybody in the workplace, male or female, should be looking for the best mentor. sometimes it may be a female depending on where they are and where you want to go and where you want to go. sometimes it's a male. so i think that's you what have to look for. i don't think it's going to be the same every single time.
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you ought to be looking for the person that is a good role model for you, who you believe, i want to be close to where they are some day or follow that type of career path and talk to them. >> i hate to say it, but a lesson learned is if you're a woman, look for a male mentor. because this is pretty awful. even in the upper reaches, the fact that you are in a male-oriented workforce, work place, is what determines who gets ahead. and of course the all -- and maybe this is teario type women have to break, we all think that because we are all girls together, you're going to be more understanding, more -- get rid of that. this is a business. look for power. that's the other part of this. it's not just a command, it's somebody who wants to spon-- sponsor you or mentor you but has power in the organization. >> if i was working at harp oh,
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i wouldn't be looking for a man. >> that's true. it does bring up a very disconcerting point and that is, why aren't we seeing more women who are in powerful positions sponsoring and having the ability to sponsor and bring up other women? and one of the questions i would like to ask, because i think it's true, is that women have been taught there is so much room at the top. and you can only havesome women at the top so don't bring anybody else up and along because it will threaten your position. >> i think that's true some of that, but isn't that more of an 80's or 90's mentalitiy? because women started seriously jumping into the workforce and i would say 19 spooks the marker when congress passed the employment -- 1992. some form of nondiscrimination law that required the new york times to stop running help wanted female and help wanted male adds. so i judge it from there and the first 10 or 20 years, yes, there
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was something special and different about being a woman. now there have been so many female 50's, there are hardly any left and yet women are still feeling this way? >> i think there is no need for women to limit themselves. there are not enough women in leadership positions any way. so reach out for whoever is the best, whoever is the brightest and whoever is available, because you're not necessarily going to click with just because you're a woman, we are not going to click necessarily, or just because -- i mean, there are so many variables and this probably could be said for minorities as well. this is not -- this cuts across. the only person that you can advocate for is yourself. >> but do you think -- your experience is that women still have this -- some of them -- obviously we are making rash generalizations. i want to get back to your point of why aren't more women mentoring? first of all, i know a lot who are. i wish i had time to do it. okay? and i don't even have children.
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so, a woman who is working as hard as i work plus trying to raise a family? isn't there a time issue there? don't you have to take care of your kids before -- >> probably so. i think that's a valid point because studies show that even though women are working outside the home and working the same amount of hours, they are still doing the majority of the work inside the home as well. so their work week is much, much longer. >> but men take the quote, time, to mentor and to sponsor other men. >> theyitudes study teen sports is the reason why it came more natural tow men than women. bringing them along and sticking up for -- males seemed to do it so much better for each other than women. unless i'll buying into -- >> i would think -- senior management where i am, and i'm always looking for new talent to bring up and i'm looking at both sexes, men and women.
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and i think that is actually a good way to be a mentor as well and to also have respect for the organization. if they think you're only trying to find the best women around, you don't have much credibility. you need to be looking for the best new talent coming into this organization that we want to push up the chain. it's going to be both. >> i think you also want to be looking for, what kind of talent are we not -- for example, i found that at one point, that young black men were far more difficult for me to reach and bring in. so i said, wait a minute. why am i having an all female staff, especially since i'm concerned about young black men and what is happening to them. then i began to reach out to them. i found some incredible men. but if i had taken the first person or the first people to come in, i would have an all female staff. now i have a very integrated -- if i could use that word, male and female staff. so i think there is some duty on the part of male sponsors or
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male executives to look around for talent other than people who look exactly like you. >> behind the headlines: dr. maya angelou. the pulitzer prize winner is the definition of a renaissance woman. she is a writer, poet, musician, activist and professor. her autobiographical books have touched generations of women. when president clinton took office in 1993, she became only the second poet-and first woman-to write and recite a poem at a presidential inauguration. today, in her new book she shares her other passion: cooking, which she says is quite similar to writing: >> the cook wants to find the freshest, most savory ingredients. the writer wants to find the words, the most poignant, the
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most accessible words so the reader comprehends immediately. i know one of the old writers says, easy reading is damn hard writing. that's true for cooking. >> she believes americans lost the art of cooking well while eating healthy. part of the problem is portion control, an issue extending past the kitchen table. >> i think that we think more is more that's not always so. that's more clothes to own, more cars to own. more things to have. we have become exiled to things. the material themselves, and that is, it's not true. i mean, it's not intelligent. now i don't mean by intelligent,
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it's not educated. i don't mean that. what i mean intelligent. something that used to be common sense, mother wit, the idea of having more makes us better people, is not true. and i think that sometimes our young men and women are not talked to honestly by people who know better. >> beyond cooking, she made her career in writing and poetry but she is also a leader in the civil and women's rights community. she says in her lifetime, women have moved forward but not far enough. >> we have to confess and admit we are doing better than we did. otherwise young people will say, you mean to say, you have been
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working this long and nothing has happened? and then they give up. i think it's dangerous to not recognize progress. it's dangerous. it says to those who went before us, who paid for us already. we are saying infect, it doesn't matter. your contributions are not sufficient. no. i think every age has its own charge to keep. and people who went before many paid for us, did some stew pend us jobs. took some leaps of faith. and i'm grateful to that. and i think that women need to know this. there is a difference between doing an old female and being a woman.
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an old female, if you're born with certain genitalia and you don't get run over by an out of control truck, you might become an old whatever that is. but to become a woman means that you take responsibility for the time you take up. you show some patience. you show some gratituditude. you work earnestly and hard and you try to laugh just as much as you cry. that's to be a woman. >> each one of us at this table does some writing and i was just blown away by her comparison between cooking and writing. because i'm not the best cook in the world. i enjoy some things that i can do well and i could be a little creative but i really like writing but it's so much harder than cooking well. do you see a comparison? >> i'm with you. >> let me tell you, when you see
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that, you feel like saying, all that you can do and cooking too? [laughter] i have been to her home in north carolina. incredible home where her multiple talents -- this woman has done everything. she's been a writer, poet, actor. and look at her age. she is in her 80's and she's a black woman. and every stage in her life, to do what she has to do or what she felt she wanted to do to be great. she had to taken credible risks that she be turned back. she is the ultimate role model for women because women are not risk takers and when they see the risks she took and the success she has had, what an inspiration she is. >> your thoughts on writing and cooking. and then we'll get to the next one, which will be easier, i promise. >> i haven't tasted any of her
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food -- no, i love how she brought that together. the similarities of the two bringing all the ingredients together. love her voice. what a beautiful voice she has. i think it's interesting to see people pick up and say she is also known as a cook and not just a poet and writer. >> i'm inspired because i have several books i have in the works that i haven't finished and i love cooking. so when i heard her make this analogy, i was like, yes, i learned to cook from my great grandmother and i'm a good cook and i cook from scratch and i think food is love. i think it's a way of giving and receiving. and my husband is always saying to my kids, taste that food your mamma made. there is love in there. so once again, i think she is wonderful and she has inspired me. >> all right. terrific. >> i agree. i like to cook. i like to throw things together. but you know where you want to get and then what you do on the way you want, it's to be clean and simple at the end and understand. yes. so i think it's great. >> and i wanted to spin often of
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her book about overconsumption not just of food but of completely materialistic society they we have become. which to me is one of the greatest concerns i have, because we are destroying the planet by over using it and there is not going to be, if you listen to experts on climate change, if we keep this up, we kent keep it up for much longer without destroying where our habitat is. so and what also worries me is our economy is completely dependent on over production and overconsumption. so what are your thoughts on doing something about this? >> i think even if it wasn't hurting the environment, all the things you just said, i don't agree with all the politics and statements she made over the years. she seen a lot and lived a life -- she's in her 80's and she can say it's not about having everything. and i think that is where we are -- you goat that age, and she has wisdom to say it wasn't
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about accumulating these things over the years. s and rightly, what she sees in the younger generation in this country of wanting more and more, getting it now. >> and sadly we are out of time. that's it for this edition. next week, street nurses work to decriminalize drug use and join us on the web for to the contrary extra and whether your views are in agreement or to the contrary. please join us next time.
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